GCP Professional Cloud Architect

Exam Overview


In this short chapter, you will get an overview of the certification, the process, and what you need to know before taking the exam. Let's talk about the exam format and what you are expected to know before you take the exam. Starting with an overview of the exam.

So, what are you and what are you not being tested on.

You are not being tested on trivia things. What’s that mean? For the most part, you are not asked questions like “what is the maximum number of this?” or “what is the throughput of that?” Things you could look up in a second doing a Google search. You may encounter an exception to that. But I think overall it is true, that those are not the types of questions you will get.

Also, in the exam, you are not required to do anything. In other words, you don’t have to configure a service, or write code, or set up a load balancer.

You are being tested on whether you are a qualified Google Cloud Architect. That makes sense, right? The certification is called “Professional Cloud Architect”. So, what’s an architect’s job? In the real world, the job of a software architect is to draw rectangles and point arrows at them. The trick to being a competent architect is to know how to label the rectangles. This is not an easy job! There are plenty of cloud architects in the world that label every rectangle with “VM”.  Meaning, all they know is infrastructure as a service. The answer to every problem is to create a network, some firewall rules, and set up virtual machines. While you can solve every problem with a virtual machine, in the end, your customer will not be happy with the bill. In Google Cloud Platform, there are many other, more efficient, and cost-effective ways to solve problems than simply by creating a VM and installing some program on it.

You are being tested on…

Your knowledge of the array of services provided by GCP and what their use cases are.

Your understanding of how services work and what they are intended to be used for.

You are being tested on your understanding of how Google thinks the services should put together to solve real-world problems. And this is an important point. When you are taking a certification exam, remember you have to get in the mind of the writer of the exam. You may disagree with the way a service works or how a service should be used, and you may be right. But that won’t help you pass the exam.  You have to answer the questions, the way they think the services should be used.

So, what are the things you need to know to choose the right service for the job at hand? Well, you have to know the attributes of the services you intend to use versus the attributes of the application that you are building.

What will happen if your application is down? Can it be down occasionally? What will you do if the application or some part of the application is unavailable?

How many users do you need to serve?

What type of security is required by your application? Are you serving publicly available information over the web? That’s a lot different than storing users' payment information.

What’s it going to cost? Maybe you are willing to give up some performance for a reduced cost, maybe not.

So, what’s the exam look like? The exam is multiple choice. Sometimes there is one right answer. Sometimes you are asked to select the 2 or 3 answers that are correct. Some questions are based on a case study. There are 3 case studies that Google has published. In this class, you will review those case studies. 

When I took the exam, there were 50 questions. You are given 2 hours to complete the exam. I didn’t find time to be a problem. I think if you are prepared, 2 hours is plenty of time. But, you need to be prepared. That’s why, for example, you should review the case studies prior to taking the exam.

Grading is pass or fail and you will be given the exam results as soon as you complete the exam. They will not tell you your score, at least when I took the exam they did not tell me my score. One thing to note: you are not immediately given the certification. A human will review your exam and you will be notified in a couple of days via email with your certification results.

You will need to register to take the exam. You can take the exam at either a Kryterion testing center in person or online. If you take the exam in-person, make sure you understand the rules going in and bring your ID.

On online exam is proctored by another person. So, don't assume you can just register right before taking the exam. You should register at least a week or two before the date you want to take the exam. When taking the online exam they will verify your identity. Make sure you are in a quiet place with no other people. You can also have no other devices, papers, books, etc. around you when taking the online exam. 

The fee for the exam was $200 when I took it. I assume it is the same, but you can verify that when you sign up for the exam.

If you fail the exam, you can take it again after 14 days. If you fail again, you have to wait 60 days. If you don’t pass a third time, you have to wait a year.

Before you study for the exam, there may be a few steps you should take to prepare.

First, take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the exam.

The first set of links should get you ready.

Also, take the Google practice exam. Passing this exam won’t guarantee you will pass the real exam. However, it will give you a feel for where you are now and also give you an idea of what the questions look like.